After completing my education in South Africa and starting my journey into the world of job seeking in London, I remember constantly hearing the phrase “I am sorry but you do not have enough experience in this job field”. I would turn away wondering how on earth I am supposed to get any experience if no one will hire someone with no experience? A slight catch 22 if you ask me, which is why I think that Austrians definitely hit the proverbial nail on the head when they decided to opt for a more practice orientated education system.
Children start school when they are six years old and go to “Volksschule” or primary school. After four years they continue onto “Gymnasium” or secondary school for another eight years. This is the general compulsory education in Austria, with secondary schools focusing on preparing students to enter a university for advanced academic study. Secondary schooling is broken down into two stages from the age of 11 to 14 and from 15 to 18 years old. The latter includes the high school exit exam, or Matura.
This type of education dates way back to medieval craftsmen days and is still used as a labour based method of teaching today. Using a theoretical and practical training system, Austria’s youth are professionally trained in companies (about 80% of training takes place in the organisation), where experience is gained on the job and where careers have been tailored to the business world.
Whether you decide to send your young whippersnappers to a €20 000 a year private international school or to give them a more cultural experience in the public school system, the Austrian educated child will be accepted by foreign investors with open arms. Employers generally tend to favour the specialised skills adopted in this type of education system.
I was always told that looking online was the best way to find a property to rent in Austria, but from personal experience the properties are not always what they seem from the pictures and descriptions. It is advisable first to speak to friends who live in the area, as personal relationships have paired me with the best properties. You could even consider sharing on a temporary basis, as this is a great way to get acclimatized to a new environment and meet people who will advise you on the best and worst areas to rent in the country. As well as possibly translating for you if you are lucky.
Apartments generally start from around €400 per month plus utilities. It is helpful to research the average utility costs for the property to lower the risk of surprises. The majority of tenants rent properties through estate agents, but they can be very costly. Sometimes they can ask for up to 3 months rent in advance, so it is advisable you first look around yourself before considering this option. Your deposit will go into a savings account and is likely to earn interest (although interest is at a low in Austria at the moment). You will only get your deposit back subject to rent arrears or damage to the property.
Rental agreements are generally from 1 – 3 years in duration and often the longer you rent for, the cheaper the price will be. Usually it is custom to provide 3 months notice prior to terminating a rental agreement.
Remember that most properties are unfurnished unless specified and strangely sometimes without kitchens. Watch out for older properties that have old windows that may let drafts in and increase your heating costs.
When I first moved to Austria I had never heard about International schools. I was working in a bar and came across a group of 16 year olds hanging around in the back of the bar (yes you can drink certain types of alcohol in Austria when you are 16). I remember this young lady sitting apologizing for the behaviour of her friends and offering to help me clean up their mess. Later on, once the group had stumbled out of the bar, she came up to have a chat with me. It turned out that she attended an International School in Vienna and was visiting her friends who all attended the public school in the area. This was the first experience I had with someone who was in the private school system.
I found out that there are a number of International schools scattered around Austria, but the majority of them are in the capital city of Vienna. Education in Austria is compulsory from age 6 until 15 and International schools follow similar curriculum to most education systems This may make it easier for expat children relocating to Austria, but it might also isolate new expats from the real experience of moving to abroad. Although private schools can be expensive, smaller classes with devoted teachers and more attention to detail may be highly beneficial.
Parents should note that when you move to Austria, you can negotiate an allowance for school fees into your employment contract. This can help considerably if you have multiple children to educate. Furthermore, it is recommended that parents bring school records and recommendations from previous teachers when applying to international schools.
Given that Austria has an exceptional public transport system, residents living in major cities rarely invest in a vehicle. However, for those wanting the freedom to occasionally escape the city life, a vehicle may be quite useful. Whether you rent or buy is something to consider, but either way you will need to know the driving regulations in Austria. Below are the license and registration requirements for both EU driver’s license holders and foreign license holders. Though first outlined are a few road rules to consider.
Most motorways have toll requirements. It should be noted that a toll pass is required to proceed on toll highways, or “Autobahnens” in Austria. These can be purchased from most retail outlets and gas stations around the country. Not having the toll pass displayed clearly on your vehicle can incur a very large fine. The same goes for disregarding payment completely.
EU License Holders
If you are a European driver’s license holder, then you are able to drive in Austria without hesitation. You will not be required to obtain an Austrian license as long as you have a valid drivers license from another EU country.
Non-EU License Holders
Driver’s license holders from countries outside the EU, such as the US are not legally allowed to drive in Austria solely on their country’s driver’s license. These drivers must obtain an international driver’s license to accompany their existing license. Alternatively non-EU driver’s license holders can provide an official license translation to prove they have a valid license. These conditions apply exclusively to the first six months after arrival in Austria, after which time individuals must obtain an Austrian driver’s license.
It is essential to review the driving license requirements needed to obtain an Austrian license, based on your respective country. Vienna’s US embassy has outlined further details for US citizens wanting to obtain an Austrian driver’s license.
The most common question asked when people start thinking about relocating to a new country is “how much will it cost there?” Most expats moving to Europe will be aware that prices are likely different to their home country, especially those moving from the US. It can be overwhelming to understand the cost conversion into Euros and the exchange rate is usually a very big influence on purchasing power.
What does it cost to live in Austria?
Prices indicated below are based on a monthly average estimate and are subject to fluctuations.
Whilst a one bedroom apartment in the city centre costs around 570€, a three bedroom unit could cost about 1300€. Outside city centres these prices will likely be considerably less.
Basic electricity for an 85m2 home will range from 170- 200€, depending on consumption. The cost of Internet weighs in at a reasonable price of about 20€/month.
Like most countries, the cost of food is greatly reduced when purchased from markets and grocery stores rather than dining out. Generally consumers can find most of their products for under 10€, with simple items such as bread, milk and eggs for all under 5€. Alcohol is quite reasonable, at less than 5€ for a basic bottle of wine and beer at 1-2€/litre. Eating out in a restaurant is always a nice treat and the cost doesn’t have to break your bank if you want to sample Austria’s cuisine. If you eat out at an inexpensive restaurant the cost per meal is about 8.50€, whilst a three course meal at a mid range eatery could cost around 40.00€ for two people.
As in most places around the world, fuel costs can be highly variable. However, in Austria the rough cost of a litre of fuel is about 1.2€. Like most EU countries, Austria boasts an exceptional public transit system, so most people take advantage of not having to drive everywhere.
Here are some of the tips on being a frugal consumer in Austria.
As one of the countries that felt not even a seismic financial ripple in its real estate market, Austria is an investors dream. This is unfortunately the opposite for those looking to get into the Austrian housing market. Expats should be aware that the average prices of homes in Austria are generally more than in their country of origin.
Urban prices and potential
If you are seeking a dream home in one of the many bustling cities of Austria, then you may want to review each city carefully. Property prices in Vienna are some of the highest in Europe, whilst in smaller cities like Salzburg you will likely find cheaper options.
Types of property
There are two types of property that buyers can purchase in Austria. These include:
If you are a non-EU passport holder, then you must obtain a permit from the relevant local authority for the region you want to purchase in. This document is generally ease to get as long as you don’t seem to pose a threat. If you are seeking to purchase forested land in Austria, then you will likely have a few hurdles to jump. If you are planning to change the property’s purpose, then your approval will be more difficult to obtain. This is to ensure public interests in forested land are maintained.
Closing a deal
The process of closing a deal in Austria is similar to most countries in which there are the below steps;
In Austria, most real estate agents take a 3% commission on property sales.